Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Holding Space

This morning, when I asked my yoga class if anyone had a gratitude or a celebration to share, a student responded, "I have a sadness to share."

She then shared that she's not seen her granddaughter since last Thanksgiving. She is coming to realize that she will be alone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

I offered to set up times for my students to use Zoom, and facilitate, a discussion about "Reimagining the Holidays". People can share ideas on how to still have meaningful connection, particularly with winter coming.

More importantly, I'm going to start holding a Yoga for Grief session. Not sure if this will be monthly or bi-monthly, but it's apparent there is a need for this. I have been sending people to my teacher, who's been offering work on grief for a while now, but this is one of those times where I finally realize that my students want me to hold the space for them. They know me, they are more comfortable being in these vulnerable places with me.

It was hard this morning, then regrouping everyone back to Yoga in Chairs. I realize how much of what I do is holding space. More and more, the biggest part of my work is holding the space and making it safe for people to be vulnerable together.

In semi-related news, my voice is still mostly gone and I couldn't lead chanting today. I must remember to only scream cathartically for a minute or two, not five. No matter how good it feels.

It occurs to me that "a good scream" is my version of "having a good cry". Crying ends up with me so congested I can't breath and my head is pounding. It never feels like a good release. That's even without getting into all the assorted trauma I have around being punished for crying.

However, a good scream, that I can get behind! It really does feel cathartic and cleansing. I just need to find a way to do it without losing my voice since I really need it for the holding space thing!

Comic tomorrow, forgot to photograph it again.


Lost Voice

All day today my voice has been hoarse and faint. I worried a little.

Whole having a long soak with epsom salt I recalled indulging my desire to scream while driving home from a the local shop.

It started because of a policy at the shop to increase security against burglary that decreases health safety.

That first scream about all of it, COVID, the ghoulish mismanagement of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, white terrorist militia, the mayoral race here, the presidential election, and feeling hopeless about the election changing anything...

The first scream of rage and grief felt so good I let out several more on the way home. Mostly incoherent screaming, a few rounds of screaming, "NO!", and swearing.

It felt good and didn't hurt at all. I came in, made tasty dinner, and watched TV with CK.

Today my voice is shot. At least it isn't a virus!


Safe to Feel

I received one of those compliments that leaves me bemused and wondering.

In yoga class today we acknowledged the anger, the rage we’re feeling. I stressed that anger is a valid response to an unjust world. I shared what I learned about anger from acupuncture; it’s the energy of spring, the power of the shot to break the shell of the seed.

We acknowledged the way women are taught to stuff down our rage lest we be labeled, “an angry woman”. How much shame comes up around anger.

I was humbled to hear that they are so grateful I have created a safe space for them to feel and express their anger!

I’m someone who feels fearful and ashamed of my anger, but I’m trying to embrace it now. I’m learning to pay attention to what it is trying to tell me.

Obie made a guest appearance today. He’s been very social and extra hungry today.


Misdirected Anger

I’ve struggled the past few days with my Inner Jerk, “Whinnie” is my pet name for her. This particular mind projection is hyper-critical of anything I try to do. It also is certain I need to do it all. I’m never able to do enough to satisfy this energy and what I do accomplish is either barely acceptable, at best, or so terrible I should feel ashamed.

Then I feel like I can’t do anything and, at the same time, I need to do everything.

It’s so tedious. Self-directed anger is a short trip into depression, so I’m trying to work through it.

Today wasn’t helped by spilling the dogs’ supplement all over, into the fridge to start my day! This made me late starting my class. I also hurt my thumb on my right hand trying to play with Bertie. Obie was extra demanding about food all day and broke a jar of salad dressing is made for dinner!

All of this just felt so defeating, waking up the feeling like I failed yesterday because I couldn’t get the takeout I’d planned for.

It occurred to me, when CK was asking how to help get me out of this really negative feedback loop, that I'm feeling rather about the world again. Still.

I don't feel like there's anything I can do to help the world. Turning the rather inward gives the illusion that I have the power to fix the rage. I'm in control!!

Except, I'm so not! "Whinnie" is driving me with this energy, "You must do everything! Why are you so terrible?! You can't do anything!"

I made a comic today and will add it later. It's downstairs and I'm trying to get to bedtime yoga. I was finishing it up when Obie broke the jar, so I didn't photograph it.

I'm adding a kitten placeholder photo from yesterday.

"Whinnie" thinks I'm really lazy for not going downstairs to take the picture of my comic. Sure thought the comic sucked too. She also thinks I'm bad at yoga and my Practice is lacking.

"Why do I sleep when I need to do more?!", she asks.

Here's that kitten again since I fixed the comic!

Ursa Minor, a kitten a friend is fostering.

Violences of All Kinds

I woke up in the early morning hours and was just getting back to sleep when CK, who had sat up in bed, said aloud, "Justin Townes Earle is dead."

We both have this memory of introducing each other to the music of Justin Townes Earle, who she got into, and Steve Earle, who I was into, as part of our courtship. It was probably a few years into our relationship she realized later, looking at the dates of JTE's releases.

This news set a gray tone over the day. CK noted that for whatever reason, this celebrity death was hitting her hard. I thought a lot about intergenerational trauma and how it robs people of their ability to feel connected. I thought about TJ, how close in age we were and how he didn't make it out. I'm so grateful for the ways I found to cultivate resiliency, I managed to avoid the addictions that were modeled for me.

We have been worried about friends and family in California. Just as one fire near my mother-in-law was contained another has started. I'm grateful our fire season has been so mild so far.

Today I heard that a member of the soccer patch community I belonged to was assaulted by cops last night, awoke in an ambulance and is now home covered in bruises and with a concussion. Part of me is surprised it has taken this long for someone I know to experience police brutality during the uprisings here. I'm grateful that it's taken so long and I'm also full of rage and grief at the state of the police.

Then another Black man shot in the back repeatedly by cops over the weekend. This time in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is about 90 minutes from where I went to college. The man lived, but is now paralyzed from the waist down. There are uprisings there and the more police violence as the response.

I keep thinking about a series of tweets from Black activist Brittany Packnett asking how many times do white people need to "bear witness" to the brutalization and murder of Black people, particularly by cops, before we do something about it. Postcards of lynchings date back to the 1880's, I didn't know about this until I was a young adult. I was so surprised, now I know better.

I'm glad I'm taking a break this weekend and glad I'm cutting down to 2 weekends a month, but I'm committed to holding space for the Yoga of Freedom classes. If people want to study with me on Saturdays it's going to come with a side of social justice. Getting more white people to talk about this without having to ask a Black person to unpack it for them is vital and is something I can keep doing.

It feels like so little, but I'm keeping in mind that this past Saturday a student in her early 70's shared that she'd always thought herself to be, "a gentle, kind person", but coming to the class has helped her see that she does have a lot of biases about race and how people look. She said it's been very eyeopening and is helping her realize that she's got work to do!


Silence or Shame

On Thursday I watched a white woman walk in to the store I was shopping in with her mask pulled off her nose. She's walked in past an employee who let her enter despite both posted store policy and State mandate.

It was irritating, but I let it go until she got in line nearby. I asked her to put her mask over her nose.

She ignored me, turning her back on me and sighing. I note that I still want her to put on her mask.

I ask an employee to help. They ignore it.

I keep talking loudly in line.

I am shamed by another white woman for, "Talking too much and it's sending more germs out your mask!"

A third white woman faux sympathizes and tells me something like, "You can't control everyone, that's why we wear our masks correctly. Just ignore her, let it go already!"

First white woman stands with hey mask still off her face halfway, nose with fingers in ears.

I waved down the employee who had greeted me at the entrance, who let this woman in while wearing the mask incorrectly. He comes over, she FINALLY puts her mask up!

"She looks fine now.", he says.

I thank him for staying there.

I lean over to say that I appreciate that he's enforcing policy when he puts up a cautioning hand towards me to calm down!

So the white woman who was not following the rules and behaving unsafely, selfishly, possibly played the, "I'm feeling threatened by that loud, angry woman!", and I get the cautioning hand for it.

I'm tied of the way being outspoken gets other white women to pile on with the shame because I'm not being a good girl. I'm so fed up with the politics of niceness and kindness and not making a scene.

CK suggested I come up with a phrase I'll just repeat loudly about refusing to be silent and complicit on behavior that furthers a health crises.


Shopping Lessons

Motorcycle helmets are not masks.

Masks go OVER the nose. Always.

If you can't talk on your phone with a mask on, go outside to talk on your phone. Consider texting only.

Be aware of the queue. Don't jump ahead to a cashier.

Have a list and a plan.

Get extras.

Be fully present and grateful to all staff.

Be quick.

I encountered all of the top four entries on my list today. American Exceptionalism and capitalism have failed.

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Anger / Depression

When I realize I’m beating myself up I’m trying to pause and acknowledge my anger. Not validate that I’m being hard on myself, unreasonable, but that I’m experiencing anger.

I acknowledge there’s so much to be angry about right now, how helpless I feel, and how ineffectual my efforts seem. I remind myself that directing the anger inward doesn’t resolve it.

I’m trying to learn to integrate my anger. What a hard lesson this is for someone who was forbidden from showing anger.

Today I'm especially grateful for the surprise of art in the mail from a beloved friend. It helped a lot with today's anger. I'm inspired to send out mail tomorrow.


Anger Turned Inward

Today I taught my second Yoga of Freedom online classes and it went very well. I focused on there later John Lewis legacy and the moral obligation to speak up, to stand up.

For the rest of the day I was in a gray depression feeling like I'd done nothing right.

It isn't true. My art page for today even captures things I did in addition to teaching a difficult class. It's just how I feel.

In reality I'm angry about Federal cops in Portland. I'm angry about my racist family, not that there's anything to do about it besides process it. I'm angry people continue to politicize masks.

All that anger doesn't have anywhere to go, this is most likely the cause of today's blues.


Lies from Invaders

The head of the Department of Homeland Security arrived uninvited in my city today. He says my city is under siege from anarchists.

He lies.

Local police continue to lie.

Federal cops are grabbing protestors off the street.

I’m so angry. I’m so afraid for my city. I the police defunded and demilitarized. I want the Feds out.

COVID dog checkup today. Sitting out in the car, waiting to hear.

How are people without cars supposed to do this?

The dogs are in excellent health. Bertie is an especially healthy English Bulldog, a poster dog. He let me stick borage flowers on his face. I’m so grateful.